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For release: July 24, 1996

Ann C. Gaudreaux
(757) 864-8150

Henry Colonna, Resident Initiatives Specialist

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Virginia State Office
(804) 278-4521

RELEASE NO. 96-120

"Neighborhood Networks" Links Virginia Beach Housing Units with Affordable Technology

Network Will Promote Job Training and Educational Opportunities

Thanks to a government/industry partnership, residents of a Virginia housing project will receive free job and computer skills training and education.

The Virginia State Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Office, WHRO, Old Dominion University and NASA Langley Research Center are jointly supporting the application of the Affordable Technology to Link America's Schools (ATLAS) as part of the "Neighborhood Networks" project within the state.

A Neighborhood Networks Internet classroom will be opened with a press conference at Friendship Village in Virginia Beach on Friday, July 26 at 10 a.m.

A two bedroom apartment has been donated by owners VMH Inc. to serve as the Friendship Village Internet and classroom site. It will be used by residents of the neighborhood housing project to support job and computer skills training and education for adults and children.

The Internet site will also be tied via electronic network to Birdneck Elementary School which serves Friendship Village. It will be one of several such sites that HUD has helped open throughout the country by obtaining the cooperation of landlords, housing associations, local businesses and government agencies.

This is the first active Neighborhood Network site in Virginia and several are planned for the near future.

The Neighborhood Network program is setting up the Virginia Beach site as a model for others in Virginia.

"The program hopes to create a desire for low- to moderate-income families to move to housing areas where an Internet connection is available for job and educational training," said Charles Famuliner, director, Multifamily Housing for HUD in Richmond.

"The computer training will act as a springboard to help get people off welfare by preparing them for the job market where computers are increasingly playing a major role. It will give children an opportunity to follow up classroom computer activities after they return home."

ATLAS is a technology commercialization initiative that grew out of NASA Langley's High Performance Computing and Communications/Information Infrastructure Technology and Applications program. Through ATLAS, NASA has made a commitment to enhance math and science education programs for grades kindergarten through 12 through the integration of computational science and wide-area communications such as the Internet.

NASA and ATLAS share a joint goal: To connect more than 70,000 K-12 school sites nationally by the year 2000 in support of the President's goal to connect all of America's schools.

NASA Langley will provide ATLAS orientation sessions to explain the technology design and applications. WHRO will serve as the Internet Central Site, and provide the telecommunications link for Friendship Village. WHRO, the public broadcasting station for eastern Virginia, was recognized as a national telecommunications facility because of its leadership in the use and application of technology for education.

"A local firm, Unified Research Laboratories, Inc. (URLabs), was formed based on the computer network technology begun at NASA Langley, and out of which the ATLAS project was born," said Dr. Joe Heyman, director of NASA Langley's Technology Applications Group. "URLabs will offer more advanced computer solutions for Friendship Village."

In addition to Internet access, the Virginia Employment Commission and Virginia Beach Library are just two sources of the training and educational software that will be available for residents of Friendship Village.

Another federal agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Norfolk Office, through its community outreach program, will add its expertise to the educational Neighborhood Networks project. A FBI special agent and a FBI computer specialist will be on hand to provide support for the initial computer training sessions. Follow-up training for Friendship Village residents will be made available by teacher interns from Old Dominion University's School of Education.

Representatives from NASA Langley's Technology Applications Group and Research and Technology Group, the FBI, WHRO and URLabs, and officials from Virginia Beach, HUD and Birdneck Elementary School will be on hand to answer questions about the Friendship Village network.

B-roll and interviews are available. For more information, contact Ann Gaudreaux, (757) 864-8150.

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